Friday, March 07, 2008

A tale of two fish fries

I decided to visit two fish fries tonight. After I checked the St. Louis Review's fish fry listings, I hopped in the car and headed to southwest St. Louis City.

The first fish fry I visited was at Epiphany of our Lord parish at Ivanhoe and Smiley Streets. Epiphany is very, very close to Highway 44 at Arsenal St. I arrived about 5:15PM and the streets around the church and the parking lot was very packed.

The problem was, not a lot of people were walking in when I was, so due to lack of signage, I walked around for a bit before I figured out that you do have to go in by the bowling alley (something you can do when you're done eating). I finally made it in and heard the news that the dine-in line was long. The carryout line was much shorter, so I headed there.

Epiphany had lots of stuff going on in the parish center. Besides the bowling alley on the way into the building, the Girl Scouts were selling cookies, the Men's Club was selling raffle tickets, and another organization was selling candles around the periphery of the center. One family had won a primo spot at the fish fry, including reserved parking places on the lot, and a table decorated with roses, glasses and chairs with chair covers from the parish auction.

I noticed a different trend at Epiphany that I saw later at my second fish fry. Epiphany sells sides by the half pint, pint and by the quart. Epiphany does not sell any dinners (fish + 2 sides). Everything, including the bread, is sold a la carte and fish is sold by the piece. I didn't particularly like this, but since I was doing carryout, it was not a big deal. I got the cod filet sandwich, a piece of catfish, and macaroni and cheese and three bean salad as my sides (1/2 pint each). This cost $8.10.

The cod sandwich ($2.35) was okay and the catfish, outside of having too much breading, actually had a good taste and was a huge piece for $3.25 (approximately 9-10 inches long and 3 inches wide.) Jack salmon and shrimp (2 for $1.80) are also available. The mac and cheese was decent, and the three bean salad was sweet with just a little tart and was pretty darned good. It was nice to see a little something different in the sides category. Epiphany had nice spots to eat in the center, even going all out with purple Lenten tablecloths. Drinks and desserts are a la carte. Pie will cost you $1, with other desserts 50 cents.

A couple of criticisms: get friendlier servers on the carryout side. The folks who served my fish looked as if they were forced into it, and the girl who set me up did not even offer sauces to go with my fish. Another gripe: no utensils or napkins are available for carryout customers.

Next, I headed over to Hampton and Pernod to the fish fry at St. Joan of Arc parish. They were busy as well, but I quickly found a spot on the street not far from the parish center entrance. Signage was plentiful at SJA, so I quickly found my way to the fish fry. The Girl Scouts were out here, too, right at the front door, selling their cookies. The fish fry is in the basement of the school.

There are two lines here, too. and they moved reasonably quickly. I was in and out of line within 10 minutes. St. Joan of Arc has one of the most diverse menus I've seen lately. They have both baked (lemon pepper) and fried fish--cod, jack salmon and shrimp. In addition, they also cheese toasted ravioli, mozzarella sticks, and cheese pizzas. They also have a variety of items on their kids' menu.

SJA, like Epiphany, also sells sides by 8oz, 16oz, and 32oz cartons, and they have a wide variety, including Irish potatoes and their own homemade vinegar and oil cole slaw that is really delightful--not too sweet and not too sour. SJA also has homemade bread. I chose the Italian, and it was fresh and good. (I just wish they would have given me two pieces instead of just one!). Drinks and desserts are a la carte, but note that senior citizens get coffee and dessert free.

My dinner with baked fish, Irish potatoes, cole slaw and bread was $7.00.


Epiphany parish
Atmosphere: B
Food: B
Price: B

St. Joan of Arc
Atmosphere: A-
Food: A
Price: A

Reviewed March 7, 2008

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